Politics

Rosendale Releases His First TV Ad in Montana Senate Primary

GOP candidate takes a page from Tester, showcases flattop haircut

Montana State Auditor Matt Rosendale is launching his first ad in the GOP Senate primary Friday. (Screenshot)

Montana State Auditor Matt Rosendale’s first TV ad in the GOP Senate primary is airing Friday.

The ad features Rosendale’s wife giving him a haircut in their kitchen. The message? He’s cheap.

“For Matt, cutting spending is personal,” the narrator says.

It’s also a nod to the flattop coif that both he and Democratic Sen. Jon Tester are known for. Tester invoked the style in a 2006 campaign ad in his first run for Senate.

Rosendale’s ad is running on “major broadcast” stations, but the campaign refused to specify which media markets or the cost of the buy. It’ll run Friday through the June 5 primary.

Unlike the 30-second video released by the campaign when Rosendale first got into the race last summer, it’s noteworthy that this spot features Rosendale talking directly to camera for about 15 seconds. In the earlier ad, a deep-throated man narrates the ad over footage of Rosendale.

During his 2014 race for Montana’s at-large House seat, Rosendale was attacked for having a Baltimore accent. It was on full display in an ad in which he shot down a drone. He came in third in that 2014 primary.

Rosendale moved from Maryland, where he was a real estate developer, to Montana in 2002. He wasn’t elected to the state House until 2010, and then the state Senate in 2012.

But his East Coast roots have come up in this race, too. One of his opponents, retired district court Judge Russ Fagg of Billings, has attacked Rosendale as a Maryland transplant.

In 2015 — a year after losing the Montana House race — Rosendale’s signature appeared on two forms that had boxes checked indicating he was a Maryland resident. The forms were related to the sale of a 25-acre property in Maryland.

Rosendale’s accountant told the Helena Independent Record Wednesday that the title company made a mistake by checking  boxes on the forms indicating he was a Maryland resident and was therefore entitled to a tax exemption, after Rosendale had signed them. The title company informed the Rosendales in a letter on Monday that it was their fault, according to the Independent Record.

Another GOP candidate, businessman and veteran Troy Downing, is grappling with his own residency issues. He recently moved to the state from California and is accused of illegally trying to buy in-state hunting licenses before he was a Montana resident.

Rosendale has led in the limited primary polling that’s been released. But those polls were commissioned by either Rosendale’s campaign or the Club for Growth, which is backing him. Rosendale also has the backing of conservative Sens. Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and Rand Paul and the pro-Trump Great America Alliance.

Fagg ended the first quarter with the most cash-on-hand — $633,000. Rosendale followed with $541,000. Downing only had $98,000 in the bank but could pour personal resources into his campaign.

Tester ended the quarter with $6.97 million.

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